JFS collaborates with Jewish Community Centers to train future counselors

Our current interns from left to right: Jennifer Glynn, Melanie McClellan, Carey Gilchrist

This summer, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans (JFS) collaborated with the Jewish Community Centers (JCC) in Uptown and Metairie to provide a weekly support group for the teenagers in the Counselor- In-Training (CIT) program. The overarching purpose of the CIT group is to provide a supportive environment for the CITs to discuss the challenges of transitioning into their new role as counselor, while also helping them develop leadership skills and improve their confidence. The groups are both educational and supportive, and the interns collaborate with their CITs to meet their unique needs and goals. The Uptown group is facilitated by Robyn Silverman and Melanie McClellan*, who are both pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work. Carey Gilchrist* and Jenn Glynn* run the group at the Metairie JCC, and are both pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

The CITs in the Uptown group are required to plan a full-day end-of-camp celebration, so they have been learning event planning skills. Robyn and Melanie are teaching them to take initiative, be creative, and collaborate with others. Their activities include: 1) creating a cohesive vision and plan for the party 2) demonstrating leadership skills and taking initiative by self-identifying areas of interest and 3) problem solving skills. The CITs choose which committee they would like to work on, and some choose to be committee chairs. As a committee chair, they demonstrate additional leadership skills and are responsible for reporting to the head of camp. These activities relate to the larger conversation about their “coming of age” role as full counselors next year. This event is an opportunity for them to shine and “prove” to the campers and fellow counselors that they have the skills and will to pull it off and most importantly, have a fun time doing it!

In preparation for their role as a full counselor, the CITs in the Metairie group are learning how to effectively lead a group of children. Both Carey and Jenn have a background in teaching and play therapy, so they are teaching the CITs basic child development and limit setting techniques. Using challenging situations that they currently face as an example, the CITs have engaged in role playing exercises where they learn to problem solve and practice applying these skills. The CITs are learning how to be empathic, establish group rules, and set limits in a manner that facilitates cooperation so that camp can be fun! We also recognize that being a CIT can be very stressful, so we incorporate quiet relaxation time and check in weekly to see how they are feeling. In our final weeks, the CITs will do an art project so they can remember what they have learned and how they have grown this summer, and get excited to be full counselors next summer!

To find out more about JFS Counseling Services click here!

To find out more about the JFS Behavioral Health Intern Training Center click here!

*Current interns participating in the JFS Behavioral Health Intern Training Center.

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